28 August 2010

Saturday Special Feature: Meet Marc Nash

You've read about him on Twitter. He even guises as a woman. This attracted my curiosity long ago, when I thought that Karen Dash was his wife! I browsed his site and found out that he does what I do, and that is character tweeting. He even has a book out: 
A,B & E

Meet Marc Nash. The man is a veritable vortex of mystery and talent, with stories that send you scurrying for the dictionary and yet drive you back for more.

I DMed him back a week or two ago and requested to do a proper interview to expose the process, a viewing of the pistons and gears in place, a vivisection of the man behind the woman, @ExisleMoll on Twitter:

How long have you been writing? Has it been easy? Is your family supportive?

To answer the last one first, my family are neither supportive nor unsupportive. They just let me get on with it and shake their heads bemusedly saying 'well thank goodness none of that stuff enters our home life'. I haven't told my wife or boys that I've dressed up as a nurse or a bachelorette, um mainly because it hasn't cropped up in conversation. My boys have seen my YouTube video readings done in balaclavas and other masks. They think it's cool to have a Dad that does things a bit different to most other fathers at school, but there again they wish I designed video games so they could be the first at school to have them... 
I've been writing seriously since college starting with plays, some 25 years now. I switched to novels when my twin boys came along and I couldn't hang out at theatres every night. Has it been easy? The words come easily, I'm always trying to catch up with my own material, writing around work and family, so that writer's block is never an issue for me. But it's been hard writing for 25 years virtually in a vacuum. By writing such idiosyncratic stuff, it's very hard to get the industry professionals interested, but by coming online and meeting a community of people I've been bolstered by the response that maybe I haven't been wasting my life up until now, that I could be on to something, however niche in scale it may be.

Where did you grow up? What was that like for you? Has it has any impact on your writing?

London. I have a love-hate relationship with my own nation, the things I cherish about our country and the things that make me foam at the mouth. Most of my writing reflects that in some ways, searching out notions of identity both for myself and my fellow countrymen, where I fit in with the norm and where I absolutely don't. Growing up I was an only child, so I had the twin impetuses of having to make my own entertainment which helped develop my imagination, but also that my parents included me when they had their friends over, so that I was always observing adult behaviour. Since one of my parents had an addiction, though not one where you take harmful things into your body, I got to see some pretty screwed up and broken examples of adulthood close up. 
I'm still trying to decide whether man is fundamentally an inherently flawed creature beyond much hope of redemption and reclamation, or whether we are all salvageable, only life circumstances often get in the way. It's essentially a very political question, but one again I probe in my writing.

Your writing stands out among the rest because of the mind-boggling diversity of your words. I find myself using the dictionary on more than a few pieces. Can you give me a little bit of your education/work background to share what leads you to this practice?

Although I had a high standard of education up to University level, I never read anything but comics until I was 14 years old and studied History rather than English Literature. To this day I've never read any Dickens, Hardy or any of the so called classics of the English literary canon. I do read a lot now though, but it's all contemporary. For my University degree I switched from History to politics and psychology which gave me all sorts of material which I still draw on. But the main thing about College was that I got to write in the first place, cos I was disillusioned with academia, but there were all these theatre stages and wannabe actors who would put on my plays. For work I've been really lucky, falling into both of the only two jobs that I've ever done since leaving College. 
I worked for 20 years in a cutting edge record store that allowed me to experience the counter-culture and recently moving into the world of journalism and freedom of expression all around the world. I have to say though, I'd drop either like a shot if writing ever got full-time, which I don't think is likely. 
The language thing? I just find words imprecise and slippery. More often than not they fail to convey the meaning they're supposed to do. My playwriting was a good education in what people really mean but fail to articulate in words.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

Oh dear, 'genre' is a word I refuse to acknowledge or attribute any validity to. I understand the need to know which shelves books are found in the store, but in an internet age, labelling things by genre just seems to diminish the work the way I see it. It's the same with blurbs, if I could distill the novel down to a strapline, then I wouldn't have bothered writing 65,000 words in the first place! I might make a distinction between fiction that is escapist and fiction that engages with reality, but even then there's plenty of readers who like to read both. But of the two, I veer towards the latter, though that doesn't mean I won't write 'fabulist' tales where a toy panda, a patch of wasteland, or a waterbed and quilt are the narrators...

Who is your intended audience (for your book and your Fridayflash)?

Anyone who wants something a bit different in what they read. People who like to be challenged, by ideas, by narrative form and by language and voice. The beauty of the internet is that any such readers can come back to a writer and start a conversation and a discussion about what they've just read with you, the writer. My writing seeks to engage with and interrogate the world we live in, to make connections and spin images that are maybe out of the everyday and ordinary. If that's your thing, I may just be a writer for you!

You have a book. A real book out there in the wild. What's it about?

The best vantage to look back on your own country is from exile. Karen Dash has fled her gangster husband in fear of her life and holed up in a Club 18-30 holiday resort in island Greece. Yet every day she is tormented by swathes of her country folk bringing home directly back to her as the British do when they go on holiday. They erect a local British 'Green Zone' of binge drinking, sex and violence and the local culture be damned. Meanwhile back in Britain, a nurse also has to sow up the victims of the same pleasure pursuits. How are the two women who have never met linked?

Thanks Marc for the opportunity (and the Dustin Hoffman-esque authorly picture!) to get to know you. All interested can purchase Marc's book here:

A, B & E - US Amazon
A, B & E - UK Amazon

Sample it first at Freado


Jen said...

Marc, it's fascinating to read more about the man behind the stories. Great interview, Carrie.

This: "if I could distill the novel down to a strapline, then I wouldn't have bothered writing 65,000 words in the first place!" is so true and annoying and well put.

Karen from Mentor said...

A couple of answers brought up questions for me, but I'll be all stiff upper lip and not ask them.

Great interview guys.
Thanks for sharing.

Karen :0)

PS: But Marc? Fair warning. I've noted my queries in my little notebook and if we're ever in a pub hoisting a few.... Lucy...you got some splainin to do.

Pamila Payne said...

Well, thank you both for clearing up the Karen/Marc mystery and for the insightful glimpse of a fascinating writer.

Tony Noland said...

Marc's voice is unlike any I've ever come across. I'm glad that he wants his audience to be challenged, because I feel that I have to bring my best ability as a reader to his work.

Good to hear more about the man behind the multiple personalities.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Great interview, Carrie!
I completely loved this. Always wondered about Marc and it's terrific to find out more about him. One disappointment: where's the picture of Marc in the dress?

Unknown said...

Nice to learn more about Marc. I agree, different is great, and that's what I enjoy about Marc's stories. They get me to see things differently while enjoying a great tale. I understand writing material that doesn't quite fit in, so can be looked over by editors and publishers. Even a few magazines that claim they want something different--read their stories, often not so different at all. Like Marc said, the internet opens up the places where writers and readers can find their place in style, subject, or whatever.

Thanks, Marc and Carrie.

-David G Shrock

Anonymous said...

Great interview.


Laura Eno said...

THANK YOU! Finally, somebody else that wants to throw out the genre pigeonhole morass. I've always maintained that I write escapist fiction.

Great interview, Marc and Carrie. I'm glad to have the Karen Dash mystery cleared up as well. :)

Kath said...

I only recently came across Marc and his writing through his last two #fridayflash offerings, linked from Twitter, and he and they were a revelation. His writing is striking, different, bold and challenging, and I love what I've read of it so far.

Your interview with Marc is fascinating. Thanks to you both for taking the time to put it together and share it.

Unknown said...

Carrie... Marc is one of my favorite writers. Thanks so much for interviewing him.

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks for the lovely comments guys

To karen (from mentor, not Dash, I'm not speaking to myself for once!) - why hold back? Go for it, ask the questions & I shall be happy to try and answer them! Stiff upper lip - I'm not buying that one for a second!!!
Ooh, now I need to send a crack task force to try and secure your little notebook

Cathy - Carrie requested a photo never previously seen. That one of me in a dress is all over the web!

Laura- partners in genre-busting! Huzzah!

Thanks again to everyone for reading.

Marc XX

Unknown said...

To everyone that visited: It was high time Marc was recognized, I thought. I've been lining up more accomplished writers to feature to give your Saturdays that extra something.

But I HAD, had to get Marc in the hot-seat. Thanks Marc for humoring a fledgling interviewer-girl learning her way around the system.